Recorder of Deeds

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What is a “Recorder of Deeds”?

A recorder of deeds is an office whose function is to record and register deeds and title to real property.  The recorder of deeds maintains a single location where records of property deeds are indexed.  The index or registry of deeds may be searched by parties who may be interested in obtaining title to the property.

The recorder of deeds is usually operated at the county level and is sometimes called the “county recorder”.  Other offices that perform similar functions include the “register of deeds or “registrar of titles”.  Documents that are regularly recorded by the recorder of deeds include deeds, mechanic’s liens, mortgages, and releases.

The registration and recording of deeds is governed by state recording acts.  These are laws that regulate recordation, title searches, and deed contests.  Having a recorded deed is especially important for property disputes wherein more than party is trying to record a deed for the same property.   

Why Should a Deed be Recorded?

The importance of recording real estate documents cannot be emphasized enough.  A deed should be recorded for two main purposes:  title searches, and certainty of title.

A title search occurs where an interested party needs to examine the title to a particular piece of property.  The interested person will usually attempt to locate the deed or title at the county recorder’s office.  If listed there, the documents will provide important information on the property.  For example, the deed will usually list the chain of ownership of the property, and will list any encumbrances to the title, such as a lien. 

What is Certainty of Title?

In addition, recording a deed grants the owner of the property “certainty of title”, to a certain degree.  This means that the recorded deed acts provides assurance that the property owner does indeed own the premises, and that their property rights are secured against legal challenges.  For example, the deed documents will usually contain a description of the property boundaries.  These can be used as evidence in a lawsuit involving boundary disputes.   

Thus, if a deed is not recorded, it can cause various complications.  A title search will become much more complex if no documents are found at the recorder of deeds.  Also, the property owner will have a much more difficult time asserting their property rights against persons who may be claiming ownership over the land.

How do I Record my Deed with the County Recorder?

If you have obtained a deed to property, you should record it with the county recorder in order to secure your certainty of title. 

The first step in the recordation process is to present the deed and several copies of it to the recorder’s office.  This should be done at the recorder’s office for the county where the property is located at.  The recording clerk will enter a copy of the deed into the official records.  The records are maintained in chronological owner so that the “chain of title” is properly reflected in the index.  

The county recorder may also enter in other information, such as a map of the property and the property owner’s information.  The original copy of the deed will be returned to the property owner once the entry is finalized.

Finally, a real property deed becomes a public document once it is recorded with the recorder of deeds.  This means that any person can search the documents if they need verification of property ownership.  Indeed, that is the main purpose of the recorder’s office- to maintain records so that title to property can be clearly defined by the public. 

Do I need a Lawyer for Recording a Deed?

Recording your deed is one of the most important aspects of property ownership.  The laws governing recordation vary widely by jurisdiction- you may wish to contact a real estate lawyer for advice on how to record a deed.  An attorney can help you compile all the documents which must be submitted to the recorder of deeds.  Alternatively, if you need to search the county records, an attorney can assist you in locating and analyzing the title to property you are interested in.  

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Last Modified: 06-29-2011 03:22 PM PDT

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